Michael Gaynor
February 8, 2013
Ben Shapiro v. Karl Rove on choosing Republican candidates: who's right?
By Michael Gaynor

So long as the likes of Rove and Law treat Obama as an honorable, well-meaning fellow and the Tea Party people as the problem, they are Team Obama's foolish helpers.

Ben Shapiro, Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of "Rove Declares War on Tea Party" (www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/02/03/Rove-declares-war-Tea-Party): "The battle for the heart and soul of the Republican Party has begun. On one side is the Tea Party. On the other side stand Karl Rove and his establishment team, posing as tacticians while quietly undermining conservatism."

Shapiro's basically right. The battle is on, but Rove is not merely posing as a tactician.

Rove IS a tactician, and the election and reelection of President George W. Bush are proof of that. BUT...did Bush win because of Rove, or would he have won bigger but for Rove?

A win is a win, but Bush should have won bigger and Rove's performance during the 2012 elections suggests that he is a prodigious fundraiser, but hardly a great tactician.

The Republican success in the 2010 elections was largely the result of the Tea Party.

Yes, Rove was right that running Mike Castle instead of Christine O'Donnell for the open Delaware Senate seat would have been the right move, in accordance with the so-called Buckley rule – run the best electable conservative – and losing the Senate races in Missouri and Indiana in 2012 was a huge mistake.

The truth is that the Republican candidates in those three Senate races were bad candidates and that was amply demonstrated during the campaigns.

But the problem was a personal problem with inept candidates, NOT a problem with their basic values.

Shapiro: "...the New York Times reported that the 'biggest donors in the Republican Party' have joined forces with Karl Rove and Steven J. Law, president of American Crossroads, to create the Conservative Victory Project. The Times reports that this new group will dedicate itself to 'recruit seasoned candidates and protect Senate incumbents from challenges by far-right conservatives and Tea Party enthusiasts who Republican leaders worry could complicate the party's effort to win control of the Senate'...."

That's NOT following the Buckley rule.

Thanks to the Buckley rule, Mario Rubio was elected to the Senate from Florida in 2010 and Ted Cruz from Texas in 2012. They won because they were the best electable conservatives, and they would not be in the United States Senate now if Rove was picking the candidates instead of the voters.

Shapiro: "...it is American Crossroads and its ilk that have run the GOP into the ground. Spending millions of dollars on useless 30,000-ft. advertising campaigns during the last election cycle, training candidates to soften conservatism in order to appeal to 'moderates,' blowing up the federal budget under George W. Bush as a bipartisan tactic – all of those strategies led the party to a disastrous defeat in 2012. The Tea Party, which may nominate losers from time to time, also brought the Republicans their historic 2010 Congressional victory. If Tea Party candidates lose, it's because they weren't good candidates; if GOP establishment candidates lose, it's because they weren't good conservatives. The choice for actual conservatives should be easy."

Shapiro is right, and Rove is overrated.

Shapiro warned: "The Bush insider team that helped lead to the rise of Barack Obama insists that they, and only they, know the path to victory. As the Times reports, Conservative Victory Project won't merely protect incumbents – it will challenge sitting Congresspeople of the Tea Party variety, including six-term Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King, who may run for Senate. 'We're concerned about Steve King's Todd Akin problem,' Law told the Times – with whom he seems far too friendly. 'This is an example of candidate discipline and how it would play in a general election. All of the things he's said are going to be hung around his neck.'"

The voters of Iowa will and should chose their Senators, and if King is the best electable conservative, he will win. Law's description of King is fodder for Democrats and, having helped them, Law presumably would claim that he was proven right if King lost the general election, but Law and his ilk might be the only reason King would have lost.

Shapiro: "Law claims he's acting under the rubric of William F. Buckley, supporting the most conservative candidate who can win. But Law is no judge of that. Neither is Rove. Their advice led to the epic Romney defeat, in which conservatives were told to vote for Romney in the primary since he was the only candidate who could win.

As a supporter of Romney in 2008 and 2012, I believed that he was the best electable conservative and still do.

Just as people like Law and Rove can sabotage conservative Republican candidates and then claim to have been proven right, voters who did not realize, in large part due to media bias and the inability or unwillingness of the Republican presidential candidates to show what the Obama campaign really was all about, that both Senator McCain and Romney were enormously preferable to President Obama.

Shapiro concluded: "...victory for conservatives isn't Rove's goal. He's a political insider par excellence, and he's playing for his political life in the aftermath of 2012. If that means declaring war on the Tea Party, so be it."

Just as Bill Clinton explained that his answer depended upon the meaning of "is," whether Shapiro is right depends upon the meaning of "conservative." Compared to Team Obama, Rove's a conservative, but that's not saying much, and his treatment of the Tea Party plays perfectly into Team Obama's plans.

So long as the likes of Rove and Law treat Obama as an honorable, well-meaning fellow and the Tea Party people as the problem, they are Team Obama's foolish helpers.

Buckley was right, and whether it's the likes of Rove and Law or the Tea Party people taking a rule-or-ruin approach, the Leftists are the winners.

© Michael Gaynor


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)


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